Admitting problems in her office’s free teleconsultation services, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, April 25, that they intentionally made it “low-tech” so even those without an internet connection can reach out to them.
However, being low-tech has many disadvantages to an initiative that receives thousands of requests every day.
Robredo shared since their program is being accessed only through Facebook Messenger, fully automating the system is difficult.
“Pero ang daming problema na medyo low tech ka. So, iyong problema namin sa sistema may namimiss kami (But there are a lot of problems when you are low-tech. So, our problem in this system is we miss some things),” she said on her weekly radio show.
Right now, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has 600 volunteer doctors for the Bayanihan E-Konsulta, which Robredo initiated to decongest hospitals and to provide free medical assistance to COVID-19 and non-COVID patients in the National Capital Region Plus (NCR Plus) bubble.
They also have more than 1,900 non-medical volunteers or telephone operators to receive the requests and do the linking with the doctors.
Robredo shared that even with a huge number of volunteers, plus her own staff at the OVP, they are still failing to address all requests and inquiries because they operate 24 hours a day. They also have round-the-clock operations because of some emergency cases such as bringing an oxygen tank to a COVID-19 positive individual at 2 a.m.
“Ngayon, parang kinukulang pa din kami (Right now, we are still lacking),” Robredo noted.
The vice president acknowledged that some patients are tagging her on Facebook and Twitter saying that they haven’t received a reply from her team.
“Sa mga ganoon, pasensya na po. Pasensya na po at hindi talaga perpekto iyong sistema. Mayroon kami talagang namimiss-out pero kami tini-try po namin na lahat mabalikan (In that case, we’re sorry. Sorry because the system is not perfect. We are really missing out some things but we are trying to get back to you) as soon as we can,” she said.
This weekend, the lady official cited the Bayanihan E-Konsulta had temporarily stopped receiving requests for “system improvements” and address the backlogs.
The initiative was launched on April 7 as a way to help those without access to doctors get the medical advice they need. After consultation, the OVP sends everyone a COVID Care Kit, which includes, among others, face masks, sanitizers, pulse oximeter, thermometer, basic medicines, and a COVID-19 monitoring sheet.